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Leaders address pollution

Kaitlyn Riely | Thursday, September 20, 2007

A resolution urging the University to pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2015 passed unanimously in the Student Senate Wednesday.

The resolution, presented by Student Environmental Task Force co-chairs Felipe Witchger and Zach Einterz, also calls for a long-term commitment to carbon neutrality.

The Task Force is a volunteer group of club leaders that meets occasionally to discuss ways to make campus more environmentally friendly, Einterz said.

The resolution describes global climate change as “one of the most serious challenges facing humanity today” and says Notre Dame has a “moral obligation to safeguard Creation for future generations.”

The resolution cites the grade of D- received by Notre Dame on the 2007 College Sustainability Report Card as a reason necessitating the resolution. The data used in the study, conducted by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, was questioned by University administrators, who said that no one from the Institute ever spoke with a University representative and that the information used in the evaluation came only from Notre Dame’s Web site.

Einterz credited the University with looking at ways to decrease energy use and increase energy efficiency and said it has expanded its recycling program. However, Notre Dame still lags behind its peers in environmentally sustainable practices, he said.

“One of the reasons for that,” Einterz said, “is our administrative support hasn’t been as strong as we would like.”

More work can be done by the University, Einterz said.

The purpose of the resolution, he said, is “for the University to publicly say they are committed to dealing with climate change in a concrete and definable way.”

The resolution acknowledges that Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves created the Energy and Environmental Issues Committee in January 2007. The committee’s Web site says its intent is to “broaden energy and environmental awareness, report on Notre Dame green initiatives and advise University leadership on eco-friendly opportunities.” Witchger sits on the committee.

Witchger said he did not have data on the current levels of greenhouse gases emitted by the campus. But he said 10 percent is a feasible goal for the University by 2015. Harvard University has reduced its emissions by six percent in the past two years, he said.

“Ten percent is a very basic, a very small goal,” Witchger said.

If the University were more progressive, he said, it could probably reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2015.

“This ten percent would just give a public statement, saying the student body wants to take action forward,” he said.

In other Senate news:

u Some senators reported that concession stands at the stadium did not take their Domer Dollars.

Concession stands behind student seating should take Domer Dollars, student body president Liz Brown said, but she said she would look into why they could not be used behind the freshman seating section.

u The Senate unanimously passed a resolution amending the Student Body Constitution. The amendment eliminated mention of the Student Union Board presidential division, which no longer exits.